Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was established in 1987 when President Ronald Regan urged the nation to provide those with developmental disabilities the opportunities and encouragement they need to live fulfilling and productive lives. Since then, many positive changes have taken place, but Developmental Disabilities Month continues to shed light on the needs of an incredibly vulnerable population.

Creating strong and diverse communities has become a common theme among those who have turned Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month into a national movement. What started as thirty-one days designated to raise awareness has turned into a mission for helping those with developmental disabilities while addressing topics like inclusion, opportunities, accessibility, independence, and the right to thrive within our society.

What are the 5 Developmental Disabilities?

To advocate for those affected by developmental disabilities, you must first understand what the term encompasses and the unique challenges for each condition included.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder impacts the nervous system, making it challenging for those who have the disorder to communicate and interact, depending on where they may fall on the spectrum.

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Defined as a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture due to abnormal brain development, typically before birth. Symptoms may show up as exaggerated movements, flopping or rigid limbs, and involuntary motions.

Intellectual Disability (ID)

An intellectual disability is identified by problems in both intellectual functioning and adaptive life skills. Intellectual function can be measured with standarized tests, and limitations can be identified by the age of 18.The main symptom of this disability is trouble learning, problem solving, or exercising judgement.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is recognized as a chronic disorder that is often associated with hyperactivity, attention difficulty, and impulsiveness. Though ADHD often begins in childhood, most people carry it into adulthood.

Learning Disabilities

There are quite a few learning disabilities that fall under this umbrella term, but the most common are Dyslexia and ADHD. Learning disabilities are neurological and can affect cognitive thinking, which means those that suffer have trouble sending, receiving, and processing information.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: 50 Years Since the Willowbrook Expose

Most of the world is familiar with the 1972 Willowbrook Exposé when television host and reporter Geraldo Rivera shocked the American public with the brutal and nightmarish conditions of Willowbrook State School. From extreme neglect and sexual abuse to little to no supervision or clothing for patients, the “school” became a national example of how the national laws required drastic and immediate changes.

Without question, the Willowbrook Exposé triggered a care reform movement in the United States for individuals with developmental disabilities.

How Services Have Evolved and Continue to Evolve

Today, Community Mainstreaming Associates (CMA) has evolved and grown to provide the supports, connections, and structure to help extraordinary people lead ordinary lives. Some of the services we offer include:

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month In Action

Residential Programs

Our Group Homes and Independent Living Facilities help garner independence and freedom for those living with developmental disabilities.

Vocational and Day Programs

These programs are designed to help individuals learn different skills, engage in community activities, develop work readiness, and engage in competitive employment. 

Community Habilitation

We provide in-home support for families to help individuals with developmental disabilities find a greater level of freedom. We offer the opportunity to work on a one-on-one basis, in small functional group settings, or a combination of both.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month In Action


Individuals and families can choose the most suitable types of services and supports to help them achieve their personal goals while controlling their own budget. While the family is more involved, Community Mainstreaming Associates can help execute the plan and assist as a Broker and a Fiscal Intermediary.

Community Mainstreaming Associates is all about assisting those with developmental disabilities maximize their potential. From customized vocational training to providing housing, to scheduled social meetings and outings for peer interaction, CMA remains dedicated to offering personalized services and shaping public policies.